Reinsdorf 'Admonished' Krause for Saying Phil Jackson Wouldn't Return to Bulls

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2020

Chicago Bulls General Manager Jerry Krause (L), Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf (C), and New Director of Basketball Operations Tim Floyd discuss the team's coaching situation at the United Center in Chicago, IL, 23 July. Under the terms of Floyd's five-year contract, he will become the new head coach if Phil Jackson decides not to return.   AFP PHOTO/John ZICH (Photo by JOHN ZICH / AFP) (Photo by JOHN ZICH/AFP via Getty Images)
JOHN ZICH/Getty Images

Former Chicago Bulls general Jerry Krause forced Phil Jackson out after the 1997-98 season, a move owner Jerry Reinsdorf didn't appreciate at the time.  

The Bulls won six NBA titles in eight years to create one of the top dynasties in NBA history, but Krause told Jackson ahead of the final season that the team would not re-sign him. Reinsdorf said he admonished the general manager, per ESPN's Ramona Shelburne.

"When he made that comment, 'Phil goes 82-0, he's not coming back,' I told him that was ridiculous, he had no business saying it," Reinsdorf said of Krause. "He realized it. But he couldn't walk it back."

Though the team didn't go undefeated, the year was still an obvious success as Chicago went 62-20 before completing a run to a championship. The team still moved on from Jackson, going against the owner's wishes.

"I would tell Jerry, 'Get over it, get over it already.'" Reinsdorf said. "But Jerry was a lover scorned. He was so proud of the fact that he had found Phil [in the Continental Basketball Association], and he turned out to be a brilliant coach. Then when he felt that Phil turned on him, he was not going to like Phil again."

He later explained that he gave Jackson the chance to return following the season but the coach declined.

"After the sixth championship, I offered him the opportunity to come back," Reinsdorf said, per Royce Young of ESPN. "[I said,] 'You've earned the opportunity to come back, regardless of what was said before now.'"

Jackson's departure signaled the end of the Bulls' run of success as Michael Jordan retired and Scottie Pippen left in free agency. The coach took a year off before joining the Los Angeles Lakers, where he won five more NBA titles.

The team went 13-37 in 1998-99 during a strike-shortened year under new head coach Tim Floyd.